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HomeMyanmarMyanmar’s military junta reintroduces the “Four cuts” strategy against civilians

Myanmar’s military junta reintroduces the “Four cuts” strategy against civilians

Key points

  • The “Four Cuts” strategy was originally designed for inland counterinsurgency operations in 1962 in the fight against the Communist Party of Burma and Karen National Union in the Pegu mountainous regions. 
  • The notorious strategy has been consistently deployed to oppress ethnic minority groups ever since. 
  • The strategy has been consistently used against Kachin, Karen, Chin and other minority, particularly Christian ethnic minority groups, including Rohinya group
  • The 2007 Rohingya massacre is a prime example of the consequences of the “Four cuts” strategy.
  • Now the horrific strategy used in the ethnic cleansing campaign has fully returned following the coup.

Yangon (Melbourne): With increasingly strong use of lethal forces against the peaceful protesters and airpower and heavy ground forces against People Defense Forces (PDFs) across the country, a new strategy deployed by the military junta has emerged, shining the light on how the military junta is attempting to stamp out those attempting efforts to seek to return power to the people. 

As in the past, the military council has started cutting off internet access in the targeted areas in Kachin State, Karenni State, Sagaing and Magwe regions, with Chin State mostly affected. 

Many fear now that the worst is yet to happen and what has happened in Mindat Town and Thantlang Town in Chin State and Demoso Township in Karenni State, amounting to what had happened in 1960 against Karen National Union (KNU) and the Communist Party of Burma (CPB). 

The infamous strategy has been used to silence and destroy resistance to its rule, clamping down all efforts and aid to support resistance forces and ethnic armed groups. 

The strategy was masterminded by former dictator General Ne Win, leader of 1962 military coup and died in Dec 2002. As the core concept of the “Four cuts” is to kill all, burn all, destroy all, Myanmar military junta is now cutting off internet access, destroying aid items and food, restricting medical aid and other essential supplies for IDPs in Karenni State and Chin State, arresting people they suspected, and kill them and arrest their related family members. 

The current blockage of access to aid and assistance for more than 500,000 IDPs (Internally Displaced People) across many regions stretching from Chin State to Karenni State has benefited no one but the only beneficiary of all this is the military. 

As heavy fighting between a combination of ethnic armed groups and People Defense Forces and the military junta is ramped up amid a mounting humanitarian crisis, the notorious “four cuts’ counterinsurgency strategy has been widely and systematically used now. 

One resident from Thantlang Town in Chin State – a Town recently emptied due to the continued military’s offensive, told Chindwin, “Everything has gone up now. A bag of rice was around Kyats – 40,000 – 55,000 before the coup, but the price went up so quickly. Especially, after the recent conflict in the Town, one bag of rice has gone up to more than Kyats – 100,000 and many could not even find the rice to buy with that price, adding that they bought one kilo of oil at Kyats – 5000 before the coup and Kyats – 10,000 after the coup, and now they have to pay more than Kyats – 30,000. Yet, it is still difficult to find the oil as no one is selling.”  

The extreme measure of public scrutiny is now conducted all over the country in a bid to cut off food, funds, intelligence and popular support of armed resistance groups such as People Defense Forces and local resistance groups and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) 

The underlying issues have never been changed, with the military known as Tatmadaw prominently using the strategy as a manual for the military training ever since. 

As soon as the conflicts with People Defense Forces and Ethnic armed organization are escalated, the occlusion immediately ensues in those areas, clearing the way for starvation for the victims of those areas.  

The systematic blockage on transport and internet access in Chin State and Karenni State has caused an extreme surge in commodity prices, taking a heavy toll on the livelihood of the local ethnic people amidst they area scattering across to seek safer places and protection. 


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